From the chilly morning weather, Niles walked into the Harbor Inn. Steve sat at his usual place. Niles poured a coffee and sat across from Dave.
“I used to park my car and walk further to the precinct in below freezing weather,” Niles said. “It’s 35 here and it feels twice as cold as New York.”
“You’re getting old,” Steve said without looking up from the Wall Street Journal.
“I heard we’re going to be in for a colder than normal winter this year,” Niles said.
“It’s that global warming they’ve been talking about,” Steve said cynically. “It’s been making the weather colder.” Steve turned a page and folded the paper over and showed it to Niles. He pointed to a headline, Cold Conditions Brought About by Global Warming. “Isn’t that like going to a nursing home and finding a guy who just died at age 100, smoked and drank all his life, and blaming the priest who gave him last rites. There has to be a better comparison, I didn’t have time to think about it.”
“How’s the coffee?” Niles said.
“It’s not so much the coffee you drink, it’s the friends you drink it with,” Steve said. “Coffee ‘s good.”
“Do you remember a young man named Beauchard?” Niles asked.
“That has nothing to do with coffee, friends, or global warming; that’s all I’m prepared to talk about this morning, but anyway – Keith,” Steve said. “Good kid, had him in school. He did odd jobs around here.”
“What kind of odd jobs?” Niles said.
“He did some painting and carpentry work,” Steve said. “He was a jack of all trades. Pretty good student in school, not an A student, but a solid B.”
“Was he and Ernie Appleton buddies in school?” Niles said.
“Yeah,” Steve said. “They seem to bond, came from similar backgrounds. Ole Ernie was a character. Strong as an ox. I gave him Ds; only because he really tried. I heard you had to lock him up for awhile.”
“Good behavior,” Niles said, “let him out early, served a day.”
“So the rumor about him trying something with Lucinda…” Steve said.
“He said, she said,” Niles said.
“That’s not Ernie,” Steve said, “it’s just not him.”
“What do you know about Beauchard’s death?” Niles said.
“Out of season hunting accident,” Steve said, “happened in the woods near the bridge.”
“Do you know about what time of year?” Niles said.
“March,” Steve said.
“Do you know the caliber?” Niles said.
“No,” Steve said, “but I bet you think it’s the same caliber that killed Mildred.”
Niles rubbed the side of his cheek with his index finger. He finished his coffee. “Have a good day, Steve.”
Niles stood and made a move toward the bin for the used dishes.
“My brother, Dave,” Steve said. “He knows a lot. He hears things from the lobster fishermen. He hears what we don’t hear in town. They have like their own little community. Out on the grounds, they take care of things their way; things that are never talked about.”
“Thanks,” Niles said.
“He’s my brother,” Steve said. “He’s a little odd, but very smart. Don’t put him in harm’s way.”
“Not to worry,” Niles assured, “and he said the same about you, a little odd, but very smart.”
Niles placed the cup in the bin and looked back at Steve and smiled. “Do you know where the priest lives?”
From behind the paper, Steve waved Niles away.